th images menu user export search eye clock list list2 arrow-left untitled twitter facebook googleplus instagram cross photos entrep-logo-svg

The 3-Step Approach for Testing Out Your Business Idea

Here's how to learn the most from your potential customers and get honest feedback
By Vanessa Van Edwards |
The 3-Step Approach for Testing Out Your Business Idea

Let’s say you wake up one day and decide the world needs a better mop, and you’re just the person to make it. Before setting out, you interview prospective customers. “Are you looking for a better mop?” you ask someone. The person searches his memory for all the times he’s wrestled with a mop or hated the smell of it, and he ignores the fact that most days he doesn’t care about his mop and can’t even remember the last time he used it. The hits, not the misses, fill his mind. “Yes,” he tells you. “I am looking for a better mop.” You’re thrilled to hear that and go off to design it. Eight months later, with $20,000 of R&D money invested, you come back and ask him to buy it. “Nah,” he says. “I’ve already got a mop.”

 

What happened there? First, something psychologists call “confirmation bias.” It’s the tendency to look for information that confirms your beliefs and ignore what doesn’t. And second, “positive test strategy,” when we consciously or unconsciously ask questions that generate answers supporting our beliefs. These phenomena working in tandem make us feel more reassured, self-confident and driven, but they also create traps for entrepreneurs and prevent us from getting good, honest feedback from our customers.

 

Fortunately, they can be overcome. Here’s a three-step approach. 

 

1. Replace assumptions with hypotheses.

Make a list of all the assumptions you have about your customers -- their price points, pain points and preferences. Now reframe them all as hypotheses. For instance, if your assumption is that customers want more options to customize your product, your hypothesis is that if you offer more customization, revenues will increase. If you think customers will buy more of your product at a lower price point, your hypothesis is that if you lower the price, customers will buy more product more frequently. 

 

And if you think investing more in social media will improve customer loyalty, your hypothesis is that by spending a portion of every day responding to customer comments online, you will drive up your retention rate.

 

2. Test the hypotheses.

This might be through interviews, surveys or A/B testing. 

 

For that customization hypothesis, you could create an A/B test on your website: Some customers will see customization as an option, and some won’t. Do the customized offerings sell better? For the price hypothesis, set up exit interviews with 20 customers who didn’t buy your product. (Email programs can be set to ping people who go through a sales sequence without buying.) Was price their chief reason for bailing? And finally, for your social media hypothesis, track each customer who was engaged on social media to see if they buy more frequently than the average customer. 

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

 

3. Ask better questions. 

If you do surveys or interviews, be careful not to ask leading questions. If you ask a customer, “Was price a large part of your decision not to buy?” they are more likely to say yes. Price is always a factor, but it’s not always the factor. To get at the factor, let your customer fill in the blank. Ask, “What was the biggest factor in your decision not to buy?” Then she might answer, “The delivery window was too long.” Now you know where to put your effort.

 

When you let your customers lead you to the truth, it will allow you to set aside your own flawed assumptions and answer their needs better. That way, they’re happier, and you’re not stuck with a warehouse full of unwanted mops.

 

 

*****

 

Copyright © 2017 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.

Latest Articles

Housewife Builds PH’s First Mobile Salon That’s Franchising for Php5.2M Each

Extraordinail’s Luxury On Wheels is ideal for people who have no time to visit a salon for their...

byJanaeka Sam Navalta | December 17, 2017 09:00:00

9 New Year's Resolutions for Small Business Success

It's a good time to reflect on your business' progress and plan how you want to grow it in the new...

byKimberly De Silva | December 17, 2017 08:00:00

5 Business Lessons From Taylor Swift

Get inspired by the pop star, who controls her image while selling millions of records

byNina Zipkin | December 17, 2017 06:00:00

15 Unexpected Things That Are Stealing Your Sleep

From the moon to your marital status, here are some zzz's disruptors

byNina Zipkin | December 17, 2017 02:00:00

LinkedIn Reveals What Job Skills You Need to Survive in 2018

If you've assumed that digital skills are just for IT people, think again

byAngelica Gutierrez for Esquiremag.ph | December 17, 2017 00:00:00

How This Angkas Driver Coped With Loss of Php1.5K Daily Income After Shutdown

About 15,000 Angkas drivers displaced since LTFRB halted operations of the ride-hailing company

byElyssa Christine Lopez | December 16, 2017 10:00:00

Planning to Give Gadgets To Kids This Christmas? Exercise Caution

Introducing new tech to your kids may not be setting them up for success, even if they're over 13

byVictor G. Synder | December 16, 2017 08:00:00

3 Keys to Getting a Job In a Competitive Industry

No job is impossible to get when you have the right mindset

byDavid Meltzer | December 16, 2017 06:00:00

10 Ways a Business Mentor Creates Explosive Results

A mentor who's genuinely on your side will steer you in the right direction to succeed

byR.L. Adams | December 16, 2017 02:00:00

Why Every Entrepreneur Should Spend Less Time Looking at Screens

Don't let your mind and body deteriorate because you're too stubborn to take a break

byAnna Johansson | December 16, 2017 00:00:00

Potato Corner Reopens Branch in Marawi

The famous food cart is back just two months after the conflict ended

byPauline Macaraeg | December 15, 2017 09:00:00

Here's How Millennials Can Reach Financial Freedom

Ever heard of this thing called passive income?

byJennifer Spencer | December 15, 2017 08:00:00